Green Furniture Concept has furnished waiting halls all over the world with its modular winding bench solutions. Once they have fulfilled their purpose, the company buys them back in order to convert them into new furniture.
“Our ambition is to be a good example, to show the furniture industry that it is possible to create sustainable, stylish and functional furniture,” says Johan Berhin, Designer and Founder of Green Furniture Concept, and who participated in the Befria Möblerna (Eng: Free the Furniture) seminar arranged by the Swedish Centre for Chemical Substitution.
Their innovative seating modules can be found at, among other places, Stockholm Central Station and in the ER at Malmö Hospital. The design is ingenious for several reasons. The wooden modules can be combined in almost infinite configurations, which ensures creative freedom for those looking to furnish their interior spaces.
“The modular architecture changes the space and produces an experience,” says Berhin. “Making something that lasts a long time also means trying to create timeless design. If the furniture matches different eras of architecture, then you have succeeded well. And they must still look good 15 years later.”
The company’s ambition is to become completely circular. To achieve this, they must have full control of the chemicals in the products, ensure that the design is correct from the start according to the Safe by Design concept, and that their business model is circular.
“We rent out stylish seating as a function, that’s our business model. But many customers aren’t quite ready for this yet, so we introduced a deposit system instead. We buy back all our seating during the warranty period, which is 15 years, and then use them in new production. Everything we sell contains a little of the old, and that makes it a neat loop.”
Doing this requires keeping a close eye on what the products contain and preparing them to be reused in production after 15 years of use. One such choice for Green Furniture Concept was to stop using varnish on the wooden furniture.
“Instead, we have found a hard wax from the flooring industry that is almost completely natural,” says Berhin. “If the products had been varnished, it would not have been possible to buy them back because varnish does not age well. Now we can take back the goods after 10-15 years, add new wax and reuse them in new furniture. Something fortuitous is that wood is antibacterial in itself, and the wax enhances that effect.”
The only plastic used in the benches is for the small floor protectors, which are made of plastic from recycled fishing nets. Another area that Berhin emphasises is the responsibility that comes with using wood as a raw material:
“It’s also important to replant trees, especially in countries other than Sweden, as the high demand for wood puts a lot of strain on forests. We plant in Morocco and Colombia in order to bind carbon dioxide, among other things.”